Key elements of the Nazi ideology
- National Socialist Program
- Especially anti-Semitism, which eventually culminated in the Holocaust.
- The creation of a Herrenrasse (Master Race= by the Lebensborn (Fountain of Life; A department in the Third Reich)
- Belief in the superiority of the White, Germanic, Aryan or Nordic races.
- Euthanasia and Eugenics with respect to "Racial Hygiene"
- Anti-Marxism, Anti-Communism, Anti-Bolshevism
- The rejection of democracy, with as a consequence the ending the existence of political parties, labour unions, and free press.
- Führerprinzip (Leader Principle) /belief in the leader (Responsibility up the ranks, and authority down the ranks.)
- Strong show of local culture.
- Social Darwinism
- Defense of Blood and Soil (German: "Blut und Boden" - represented by the red and black colors in the Nazi flag)
- "Lebensraumpolitik", "Lebensraum im Osten" (The creation of more living space for Germans)
- Related to Fascism
Nazism and romanticism
According to Bertrand Russell, Nazism comes from a different tradition than that of either liberal capitalism or communism. Thus, to understand values of Nazism, it is necessary to explore this connection, without trivializing the movement as it was in its peak years in the 1930s and dismissing it as a little more than racism.
Many historiographers say that the anti-Semitic element, which does not exist in the sister fascism movement in Italy and Spain, was adopted by Hitler to gain popularity for the movement. Anti-Semitic prejudice was very common among the masses in German Empire. It is claimed that mass acceptance required anti-Semitism, as well as flattery of the wounded pride of German people after the defeat of WWI. Others see anti-Semitism as central to Hitler's Weltanschauung (World view).
Many see strong connections to the values of Nazism and the irrationalist tradition of the romantic movement of the early 19th century. Strength, passion, lack of hypocrisy, utilitarianism, traditional family values, and devotion to community were valued by the Nazis and first expressed by many Romantic artists, musicians, and writers, as well as, among the Nazi elite, the ancient Greek habit of same-sex relations between the military and young boys praised notably in Plato's works, and favored by German sensualists such as Röhm, Bielas and Wessel. German romanticism in particular expressed these values. For instance, the Nazis identified closely with the music of Richard Wagner (a noted anti-Semite, author of Das Judenthum in der Musik, and idol to the young Hitler). Many of his operas express the ideals of the strong dominating the weak, and a celebration of traditional Norse Aryan folklore and values. The style of his music is often very militaristic.
The idealisation of tradition, folklore, classical thought, the leadership of Frederick the Great, their rejection of the liberalism of the Weimar Republic and the decision to call the German state the Third Reich (which hearkens back to the medieval First Reich and the pre Weimar Second Reich) has led many to regard the Nazis as reactionary.
Nazism and Communism emerged as two serious contenders for power in Germany after the First World War, particularly as the Weimar Republic became increasingly unstable.
What became the Nazi movement arose out of resistance to the Bolshevik-inspired insurgencies that occurred in Germany in the aftermath of the First World War. The Russian Revolution of 1917 caused a great deal of excitement and interest in the Leninist version of Marxism and caused many socialists to adopt revolutionary principles. The 1918-1919 Munich Soviet and the 1919 Spartacist uprising in Berlin were both manifestations of this. The Freikorps, a loosely organised paramilitary group (essentially a militia of former World War I soldiers) were used to crush both these uprising and many leaders of the Freikorps, including Ernst Röhm, later became leaders in the Nazi party.
Capitalists and conservatives in Germany feared that a takeover by the Communists was inevitable and did not trust the democratic parties of the Weimar Republic to be able to resist a communist revolution. Increasing numbers of capitalists began looking to the nationalist movements as a bulwark against Bolshevism. After Mussolini's fascists took power in Italy in 1922, fascism presented itself as a realistic option for opposing "Communism", particularly given Mussolini's success in crushing the Communist and anarchist movements which had destabilised Italy with a wave of strikes and factory occupations after the First World War. Fascist parties formed in numerous European countries.
Many historians such as Ian Kershaw and Joachim Fest argue that Hitler and the Nazis were one of numerous nationalist and increasingly fascistic groups that existed in Germany and contended for leadership of the anti-Communist movement and, eventually, of the German state. Further, they assert that fascism and its German variant National Socialism became the successful challengers to Communism because they were able to both appeal to the establishment as a bulwark against Bolshevism and appeal to the working class base, particularly the growing underclass of unemployed and unemployable and growingly impoverished middle class elements who were becoming declassed (the lumpenproletariat). The Nazi's use of socialist rhetoric appealed to disaffection with capitalism while presenting a political and economic model that divested "socialism" of any elements which were dangerous to capitalism, such as the concept of class struggle, "the dictatorship of the proletariat" or worker control of the means of production.
Support of anti-Communists for Fascism and Nazism
Various right-wing politicians and political parties in Europe welcomed the rise of fascism and the Nazis out of an intense aversion towards Communism. According to them, Hitler was the savior of Western civilization and of capitalism against Bolshevism. Among these supporters in the 1920s and early 1930s was the Conservative Party in Britain. During the later 1930s and 1940s, the Nazis were supported by the Falange movement in Spain, and by political and military figures who would form the government of Vichy France. A Legion of French Volunteers against Bolshevism (LVF) and other anti-Soviet fighting formations, were formed.
The British Conservative party and the right-wing parties in France appeased the Nazi regime in the mid- and late-1930s, even though they had begun to criticise its totalitarianism. Some contemporary commentators suggested that these parties did in fact still support the Nazis.
Nazism and Anglo-Saxons
Hitler admired the British Empire as a shining example of Nordic genius. Racist theories were developed by British intellectuals in the 19th century to control the Indian people and other "savages." These methods were often copied by the Nazis.
Similarly, in his early years Hitler also greatly admired the United States of America. In Mein Kampf, he praised the United States for its race-based anti-immigration laws. According to Hitler, America was a successful nation because it kept itself "pure" of "lesser races." However as war approached, his view of the United States became more negative and he believed that Germany would have an easy victory over the United States precisely because the United States in his later estimation had become a mongrel nation..